Baseball Rules!

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in a league of his own…

Weeks ago, The Metaphor Observatory cited various metaphorical references to baseball in the description of then-headliner Hurricane Rita. For those who actually peruse this site, you may have noticed that the following hurricanes were kept out of the game altogether, perhaps because of Rita’s disappointing failure at bat – at least from a sensationalist newscaster’s point of view. It seemed as if baseball metaphors had been quickly and unceremoniously removed from the meteorological game and forced into early retirement.

Then, last week, baseball metaphors apparently leapt out of retirement, and into a whole new game – this time headed for the courts.

The Valerie Plame/Valerie Wilson affair had sparked widespread discussion of scandal, skullduggery and accusation, the likes of which were often compared to Watergate. Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald was brought in to investigate, and, on releasing his findings, stepped up to the plate, and presented us with what may go down as the longest baseball analogy in the game’s 200 year history. Here is an excerpt from his press conference, Friday, October 28th, 2005, with the metaphors bolded for color:

“…Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn’t result in a charge? I’ve been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.

“If you saw a baseball game1 and you saw a pitcher2 wind up3 and throw4 a fastball5and hit6 a batter7right smack in the head8, and it really, really hurt them9, you’d want to know why the pitcher2 did that. And you’d wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, I’ve got bad blood with this batter7. He hit8 two home runs9 off me. I’m just going to hit6 him in the head as hard as I can.

“You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher7 just let go of the ball10 or his foot slipped11, and he had no idea to throw the ball4 anywhere near the batter’s head8. And there’s lots of shades of gray in between.

“You might learn that you wanted to hit6 the batter7 in the back12 and it hit6 him in the head because he moved13. You might want to throw4 it under his chin, but it ended up hitting6 him on the head.

“And what you’d want to do is have as much information as you could. You’d want to know: What happened in the dugout14? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you’d want to know.

“And then you’d make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball15, whether they should be suspended16, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, Hey, the person threw a bad pitch10. Get over it.

“In this case, it’s a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn’t to one person. It wasn’t just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.

“And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?

“Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?

“And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire17 gets sand thrown in his eyes18. He’s trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view19.

“As you sit here now, if you’re asking me what his motives were, I can’t tell you; we haven’t charged it…”.

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald

Now we’ll have our resident metaphorist try to translate these for you:

  1. The game is politics.
  2. The pitcher is the who exposed Valerie Wilson, believed by many to be Karl Rove.
  3. The wind up is the evidence of premeditation.
  4. The throw is the act of exposing Valerie Wilson.
  5. The fastball is the fast and unavoidable nature of the revellation on Valerie Wilson.
  6. The hit is the generalized impact on her life.
  7. The batter is Valerie Wilson.
  8. The batter’s head is a potentially fatal target.
  9. To hurt them is to disrupt or end their life.
  10. To let go of the ball is to make a mistake.
  11. A slip of the foot is to have an accident.
  12. The back is a painful but not life threatening target.
  13. A move is a reaction to the oncoming threat by Valerie Wilson (that, in this case, worsened the impact).
  14. The dugout is the administrative office in which the plot was made.
  15. Banned from baseball is removed from office (or worse, such as life imprisonment).
  16. Suspension is a reprimand in which one later returns to the same position.
  17. The umpire is the Justice Department.
  18. The sand in the eyes is the deliberate impairment of the Justice Department’s abilities, including perjury, with which Scooter Libby is being charged.
  19. The blocking of view is the destruction or obstruction of evidence, again, with which Scooter Libby is being charged.

Today the Democrats pulled a forced play on the Senate, causing a closed session over the Iraq data. The bases are loaded, it’s the bottom of the ninth, and the pennant is at stake. Observing from Rita that the pointless game of politics never gets rained out, I sit in the bleachers and order another beer.

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